The Greek that is translated into English as “crucify” is translated into Naro with xgàu which literally means “to stretch” as is done with a skin after slaughtering in order to dry it. The word is also widely accepted in the churches (source: Gerrit van Steenbergen). Similarly, Balinese and Toraja-Sa’dan also translate as “stretch him” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel) and in Rendille as lakakaaha — “stretched and nailed down” (source: Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 33).
In Ghari it becomes “hammer to the cross” (source: David Clark), in Loma “fasten him to a spread-back-stick” (source: Bratcher / Nida), in Sundanese “hang him on a crossbeam” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Aguaruna “fasten him to the tree,” in Navajo “nail him to the cross,” in Yatzachi Zapotec “fasten him to the cross” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.), in Nyongar “kill on a tree” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and in Apali the different aspects of the crucifixion have to be spelled out: “nail to a tree piece put cross-wise, lift up to stand upright (for the crucified person) to die (and in some contexts: to die and rise again)” (source: Martha Wade).
In British Sign Language it is signed with a sign that signifies “nails hammered into hands” and “arms stretched out.” (Source: Anna Smith)
“Crucify” or “crucifixion” in British Sign Language (source: Christian BSL, used with permission)
Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 11:8:
Uma: “After those two witnesses are killed, their corpses will just be left lying there in the road of the big village. (That big village is the village where their Lord was crucified. If one uses-figurative-language, that village is compared to Sodom and Mesir long ago, because the inhabitants of that village are very evil. )” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “Their corpses will be simply left (lying) on the street in the famous city, the city where their Lord was killed being nailed to the post. That city is called Sodom and Misil but that is not its real name, it is only a figurative name.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And their bodies will be laid out in the streets of the great city where their Lord was nailed to the cross. There are allegorical names for that city which are Sodom and Egypt.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “in the street of the large town in which indeed also their Lord was nailed to the cross. That town, it can be compared to Sodoma and Egipto. Then three days and a half will go-by while (lit. and) their bodies will be left in that-aforementiond street while people from all nations and groups whose languages and skin are mutually-different spectate. And they won’t permit that they be buried.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “And then their dead bodies will be lying-in-disorder there in the street of that far-from-ordinary city, which is where in the past their Lord/Chief Jesus was nailed to a cross. Well as for that city of Jerusalem, it is also named Sodoma and Egipto, because of the ways of the people from there which are really like the evil nature/ways of the people of Sodoma and Egipto long ago.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “These dead men who were killed had their bodies left on the streets of the city in which the Lord Jesus had been put on the cross. This city is compared to the city of Sodom and with the land of Egypt.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
The Hebrew adonai in the Old Testament typically refers to God. The shorter adon (and in two cases in the book of Daniel the Aramaic mare [מָרֵא]) is also used to refer to God but more often for concepts like “master,” “owner,” etc. In English Bible translations all of those are translated with “Lord” if they refer to God.
In English Old Testament translations, as in Old Testament translations in many other languages, the use of Lord (or an equivalent term in other languages) is not to be confused with Lord (or the equivalent term with a different typographical display for other languages). While the former translates adonai, adon and mare, the latter is a translation for the tetragrammaton (YHWH) or the Name of God. See tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the article by Andy Warren-Rothlin in Noss / Houser, p. 618ff. for more information.
In the New Testament, the Greek term kurios has at least four different kinds of use:
referring to “God,” especially in Old Testament quotations,
meaning “master” or “owner,” especially in parables, etc.,
as a form of address (see for instance John 4:11: “Sir, you have no bucket”),
or, most often, referring to Jesus
In the first and fourth case, it is also translated as “Lord” in English.
Most languages naturally don’t have one word that covers all these meanings. According to Bratcher / Nida, “the alternatives are usually (1) a term which is an honorific title of respect for a high-ranking person and (2) a word meaning ‘boss’, ‘master’, or ‘chief.’ (…) and on the whole it has generally seemed better to employ a word of the second category, in order to emphasize the immediate personal relationship, and then by context to build into the word the prestigeful character, since its very association with Jesus Christ will tend to accomplish this purpose.”
When looking at the following list of back-translations of the terms that translators in the different languages have used for both kurios and adonai to refer to God and Jesus respectively, it might be helpful for English readers to recall the etymology of the English “Lord.” While this term might have gained an exalted meaning in the understanding of many, it actually comes from hlaford or “loaf-ward,” referring to the lord of the castle who was the keeper of the bread (source: Rosin 1956, p. 121).
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Following are some of the solutions that don’t rely on a different typographical display (see above):
Iyansi: Mwol. Mwol is traditionally used for the “chief of a group of communities and villages” with legal, temporal, and spiritual authority (versus the “mfum [the term used in other Bantu languages] which is used for the chief of one community of people in one village”). Mwol is also used for twins who are “treated as special children, highly honored, and taken care of like kings and queens.” (Source: Kividi Kikama in Greed / Kruger, p. 396ff.)
Binumarien: Karaambaia: “fight-leader” (Source: Oates 1995, p. 255)
Warlpiri: Warlaljamarri (owner or possessor of something — for more information tap or click here)
We have come to rely on another term which emphasizes God’s essential nature as YHWH, namely jukurrarnu (see tetragrammaton (YHWH)). This word is built on the same root jukurr– as is jukurrpa, ‘dreaming.’ Its basic meaning is ‘timelessness’ and it is used to describe physical features of the land which are viewed as always being there. Some speakers view jukurrarnu in terms of ‘history.’ In all Genesis references to YHWH we have used Kaatu Jukurrarnu. In all Mark passages where kurios refers to God and not specifically to Christ we have also used Kaatu Jukurrarnu.
New Testament references to Christ as kurios are handled differently. At one stage we experimented with the term Watirirririrri which refers to a ceremonial boss of highest rank who has the authority to instigate ceremonies. While adequately conveying the sense of Christ’s authority, there remained potential negative connotations relating to Warlpiri ceremonial life of which we might be unaware.
Here it is that the Holy Spirit led us to make a chance discovery. Transcribing the personal testimony of the local Warlpiri pastor, I noticed that he described how ‘my Warlaljamarri called and embraced me (to the faith)’. Warlaljamarri is based on the root warlalja which means variously ‘family, possessions, belongingness’. A warlaljamarri is the ‘owner’ or ‘possessor’ of something. While previously being aware of the ‘ownership’ aspect of warlaljamarri, this was the first time I had heard it applied spontaneously and naturally in a fashion which did justice to the entire concept of ‘Lordship’. Thus references to Christ as kurios are now being handled by Warlaljamarri.” (Source: Stephen Swartz, The Bible Translator 1985, p. 415ff. )
Mairasi: Onggoao Nem (“Throated One” — “Leader,” “Elder”) or Enggavot Nan (“Above-One”) (source: Enggavoter 2004)
Obolo: Okaan̄-ene (“Owner of person(s)”) (source: Enene Enene)
Seediq: Tholang, loan word from Min Nan Chinese (the majority language in Taiwan) thâu-lâng (頭儂): “Master” (source: Covell 1998, p. 248)
Thai: phra’ phu pen cao (พระผู้เป็นเจ้า) (divine person who is lord) or ong(kh) cao nay (องค์เจ้านาย) (<divine classifier>-lord-boss) (source: Stephen Pattemore)
Arabic often uses different terms for adonai or kurios referring to God (al-rabb الرب) and kurios referring to Jesus (al-sayyid الـسـيـد). Al-rabb is also the term traditionally used in Arabic Christian-idiom translations for YHWH, and al-sayyid is an honorary term, similar to English “lord” or “sir” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin).
Tamil also uses different terms for adonai/kurios when referring to God and kurios when referring to Jesus. The former is Karttar கர்த்தர், a Sanskrit-derived term with the original meaning of “creator,” and the latter in Āṇṭavar ஆண்டவர், a Tamil term originally meaning “govern” or “reign” (source: Natarajan Subramani).
Burunge: Looimoo: “owner who owns everything” (in the Burunge Bible translation, this term is only used as a reference to Jesus and was originally used to refer to the traditional highest deity — source: Michael Endl in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 48)
Aguacateco: Ajcaw ske’j: “the one to whom we belong and who is above us” (source: Rita Peterson in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 49)
Konkomba: Tidindaan: “He who is the owner of the land and reigns over the people” (source: Lidorio 2007, p. 66)
Law (2013, p. 97) writes about how the Ancient GreekSeptuagint‘s translation of the Hebrew adonai was used by the New Testament writers as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments: “Another case is the use of kurios referring to Jesus. For Yahweh (in English Bibles: ‘the Lord‘), the Septuagint uses kurios. Although the term kurios usually has to do with one’s authority over others, when the New Testament authors use this word from the Septuagint to refer to Jesus, they are making an extraordinary claim: Jesus of Nazareth is to be identified with Yahweh.”
Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city: it was a shameful thing for corpses not to be buried. To translate the Greek literally the street, as Revised Standard Version and Good News Translation do, may make it appear that this was a city that had only one street. So it may be preferable to translate “the main street” or “the public square,” or “the open places where people gathered.” For great city the translation can be “the famous city” or “the important city.” The writer clearly identifies the city as Jerusalem (where their Lord was crucified). But, as in all other such matters, what the writer has in mind is not a specific geographical location as such but the general role played in sacred history by such places. For the translation of city compare 11.2.
Allegorically called Sodom and Egypt: the adverb allegorically may be represented by “symbolically” (Good News Translation “the symbolic name”); or else, “in figurative language.” Instead of Sodom and Egypt a translation may choose to say “Sodom or Egypt” (Good News Translation, Translator’s New Testament, Bible en français courant, Revised English Bible), to avoid giving the impression that the city was called by a double name.
Where their Lord was crucified: this is a reference to Jesus, the Lord of the two prophets. In languages that do not use the passive, one may translate, for example, “where people crucified (or, hung on a cross) the Lord of these two (prophets).”
It is better not to follow slavishly the order of the Greek text, as Revised Standard Version does. A careless reader may understand that it was Sodom and Egypt where their Lord was crucified. Good News Translation offers another way of ordering the various items of information.
An alternative translation model for this verse is:
• Their dead bodies (or, corpses) will lie in the main street of that important city where people crucified their Lord. People have given that city the symbolic name of Sodom or Egypt.
Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Revelation to John. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1993. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .